For the first time in nearly 10 years Bryan Bomboy can move his right arm so he can touch his face.
With so much more to do, he has once again turned to the Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation for help.
Bomboy, 51, has been paralyzed from a fall in November 2004 and through the foundation received a low-interest loan to buy a medical device to help him regain the use of his right hand. Bouyed by the effects of stem cell injections that have enabled him to regain control of his upper body, he’s feeding himself with help.
The Bioness wireless unit stimulates the nerves by extending his fingers and folding them back into a fist. A new unit costs $9,000, but Bomboy through PATF purchased a refurbished one for $4,500.
“I’m willing to try anything to get out of this mess,” Bomboy said Friday.
He has had three other loans through the non-profit foundation that assists people with disabilities and their families purchase equipment needed to live their daily lives that is not covered by insurance. He purchased a dishwasher and had wiring and lighting upgrades at his house in Exeter.
The recipients credit the program for allowing them to regain and maintain their independence while improving their credit scores as they repay the loans. Most of them cannot get loans from banks because of their poor credit. The PATF steps in and takes the risks of loaning the money or backing loans up to $25,000.
Approximately 98 percent of the recipients satisfy their loans, an achievement Susan Tachau, executive director of the King of Prussia-based PATF touted.
“They don’t default because this is an incredibly important device (to them),” Tachau said.
A 101-year-old woman was able to purchase equipment to allow her to climb stairs and stay in her house, according to Tachau. Other loans funded home modifications, specially equipped vehicles and purchases of iPads with special applications for learning.
“We give people the tools they need to do the things they need to do,” Tachau said.
“It’s not a handout,” she said of the loans.
Since its creation more than a dozen years ago, PATF has distributed approximately $33 million through direct loans of less than $1,500 and in conjunction with lenders Bryn Mawr Trust and Santander Bank.
PATF does fundraising and depends upon a state appropriation. It received $400,000 for the current fiscal year through a line-item budget entry, Tachau said. “Every year we have to work for it,” she said.
The state money allows PATF to do all of the underwriting and provide assistance without charging recipients. PATF also uses it to leverage between $2 million and $3 million in other money, Tachau said.
Loans under $1,500 have no interest. For loans between $1,500 and $60,000 the interest rate is 3.75 percent, said Tracy Beck, operations director for PATF.
“Last year, we did 1,000 information and assistance calls,” Beck said, adding there are four people in the office.
Of the 33 states that have similar alternative financing programs, PATF is the largest, Beck said.